STUDY: Being Out and Proud Main Reason Behind Surge in Gay Marriage Support

pew-pollA new study by the Pew Research Center takes a look at what’s caused the major shift in support for marriage equality in America and the closet door falling off its hinges has had the greatest impact.

The Washington Post reports:

The most commonly cited reason for the change of heart — offered by one in three respondents — is that they know someone who is gay.  Interestingly, that’s the reason Ohio Sen. Rob Portman gave for his decision to come out in support of gay marriage recently; Portman’s son, Will, told his parents two years ago that he is gay.

Other regularly-mentioned reasons for changing opinions on gay marriage include “grown more open/thought about it more” (25 percent), “it’s inevitable” (18 percent) and “everyone is free to choose” (18 percent).

According to the study, a poll conducted in 2003 found that 58% of Americans opposed legalizing gay marriage, compared to 33% in favor. 10 years later, a survey by Pew found the scales significantly tipped, with 49% in favor and 44% opposed.

Another reason for the change is strong support among Millennials — people of voting age born after 1980 — who now make up a larger percentage of the adult population (27%). Their views have also evolved over the past ten years, with 51% in favor of gay marriage in 2003 and 70% in favor today.

Democratic media consultant Doc Sweitzer cites another reason all together for the shift in attitudes towards same-sex marriage.

“Television,” Sweitzer wrote in an email to The Post. “It’s the greatest socializing tool of all time. Archie Bunker changed attitudes about race and the generational divide. Gays are portrayed in all kinds of shows in a positive light, from Law and Order to CSI. They are shown as people who just want to live their lives.”

So thanks for tuning in, America.

You can read the full Pew report here.

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  • iantombower

    I have said this for nearly five decades. If LGBT people want equality you Have to be out and comfortable with yourself.

  • Bob

    I have had people say to me “I can’t be out because of my job”

    I tell them “I don’t care what your job is, teacher, accountant, factory worker,
    pastor, writer, mechanic, salesman….anything….I know an out gay person doing the same job.”

    The closet hurts us all.

  • RSun

    @iantombower: @Bob: Totally agree! My partner and I have been together 20 years, and in that time we have been out and proud in our community. We volunteer, we are good neighbours and we support our friends and family. Over time, it has a huge affect on public perception.

  • Charles175

    While we were deep in the closet for so-o-o many decades, people assumed many things about us. Myths, misconceptions and outright lies were formed and aggravated by religious beliefs. These so called “facts” had inevitably became solidified through the profound and yet deafening silence of us being locked inside that closet. As the time went on, this misinformation was repeated, being repeated over and over again from person to person and from pulpit to pulpit unchallenged as it was. This happened so much so that the old saying “Tell a lie enough times and it becomes truth” became true. Now that the closet is wide open. Now that people can actually see us in person. Now that they can see us day to day functioning in the light of truth. They can now see that we are, at root, no different from any other minority. In this, the well established lies about us are being rapidly obliterated. Obliterated by this deluge of truth.


    It’s amazing to see that attitudes have changes to quickly. I’m not sure that anyone thought public opinion would change so drastically so FAST. Furthermore, isn’t it Harvey Milk who said that everyone needed to come out for there to be equality?

  • Shanestud

    Harvey Milk was said it so brilliantly in the 70’s when he appealed to closeted gays to come out.

    “Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions”

  • Cam

    MANY republican friends have told me that in the last election they couldn’t pull the lever for the GOP because they felt like doing so would be attacking me and other gay friends. IF they didn’t have gays in their lives that thought would have never occurred to them. Harvey Milk had it so right in what No. 6 posted above.

    Hopefully more and more will come out and join the party.

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